Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rest in Peace

Remember when you were small? I’d call you in from the backyard, we’d sit on the floor and have lunch, your favorite; peanut butter and jelly with tomato soup and lots of crackers. And then, I’d tell you it was time to rest so you’d grow big and strong. You’d complain about having to nap, but in the end I’d always win because you’d fall asleep watching Captain Kangaroo.

As you grew, when you’d come home from school I’d make you a snack, your favorite again, and then you’d run out to play. After supper and chores and homework, I’d say, “Bedtime, you need your rest, so you’ll be sharp in school.” You’d complain about it being so early, but in the end I’d always win because you’d fall asleep before I finished reading you a story.

And then, there was the time you came down with the fever. You asked “Daddy, am I going to heaven—to be with Mama?”

I said, “Not for a long, long time son. You’ll get well; you just need your rest.” Sure enough you recovered and grew to be a man.

And now here I sit, resting weary bones on this old familiar bench. Marble sentinels stand guard over loved ones; their cadence; R.I.P.

Words I’ve heard too often, rest in peace, echo in my mind. I wonder, what does that really mean?

And then, my quiet musing is interrupted by a man who sits down on the bench beside me and asks, “You doing alright, sir?”

I continue to stare at the fresh dirt, “What’s it mean, rest in peace?”

“Well,” he says, “There’s a rest we give our bodies, like naps, to grow big and strong. And there’s early to bed rest, so we’ll be sharp in school. And then, there’s the extra rest we need when we’re ill so we can heal. That kind of rest helps our bodies mend.” His eyes follow my gaze to the fresh dirt and he pats a book in his lap. “But, this kind of rest is different.”

I started to ask if he knew me, but he continued.

“This is rest for the soul. And it’s the most important kind of rest. It heals broken hearts, restores hope and provides peace. It’s available in this life,” he nods his head toward the marble, “and the next.” Then, he looks down. “But, few ever find it.”

“Peace?” I whisper and look at the gravestone nearest me.

I taught you all you needed to know about getting your piece of the pie in this life, but nothing about finding peace for your soul. And now, here you lie. The marker says Rest in peace, but I wonder if you ever will, you never learned how, I failed you.

If there’s rest for the soul—it’ll never be mine. I don’t deserve it. I’m sorry, my son.

I blink and pain leaks down my cheek. “That’s my boy” I nod toward the fresh dirt and simple stone. “Thirteen months ago was the last time we spoke. He called, crying. Divorce papers in hand, wife and kids were gone, something about being married to his job was the problem.” I taste salty wet on my lip. “I told him to get some rest because, you know, everything looks better in the morning after a good night’s rest. He screamed, ‘A nap won’t fix this Dad! I don’t need sleep. I need peace!’ Click. That was the last time I heard from him. I tried calling. He never answered. And then three days ago, I got the call from the hospital.”

The stranger opens his Bible.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me’ for I am meek and lowly in heart” and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

He looks deep into my soul. “Even if you’d told your son about this rest, you couldn’t have given it to him. Only One can do that. And no one deserves it. It’s a gift for all who humble themselves and come to Him. I have a message for you—your child is with Jesus—The Prince of Peace. I know, I was there, I heard him pray, watched him change, and carried him Home.

Your wife and son have found true rest. Whether you’ll see them again is up to you. This life is simply the waiting room to eternity. You choose where you go from here; His Eternal Rest or eternal unrest.”

I drop to my knees and close my eyes, I feel a gentle wind and it carries the sound of a choir singing an old familiar hymn. And in the choir, I’m sure I hear, the voices of my wife and child.

This song becomes my prayer…

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I am tired, I am weak, I am worn

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear

Precious Lord linger near

When my life is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears

And the night draws near

And the day is past and gone

At the river I stand

Guide my feet, hold my hand

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home


HisFireFly said...

In tears here, unsure if this is your story or simply story.
The pain cuts sharp and questions swirl, I can feel all of it through your words.
If you need prayers or a listening ear, I'm here...

caryjo said...

Love the story. Love the hymn -- have it on cds by Elvis, Jim Reeves, etc. And it's a "me" song. Inside my "self" I'm living in storms and weakness and tiredness ... and His LIGHT is what keeps me moving on. Only that.

You touched my heart, as usual.

It's so good to "see" you again. These few stories I've been buried away from in trying to reorganize my ministry life which has become "blogging" which I never would have expected and is taking much time. Glad I'm NOW checking on my friends and you and Susie have taken over an hour of my time and it's been a joy!


Doug Spurling said...

Karin, it's a story, bits and pieces of real life events pulled together to fit into one piece. Thanks for your comment and offer for prayer, can always use that... Ipray4u

Doug Spurling said...

Joanne, I thought of putting a link to either Elvis or Reeves singing it but decided not to. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and visit--it's always a gift to 'see' you. And each time you do ipray4u. Keep moving toward HIS LIGHT it's the best way to stay outta the dark.